Besides cabin fever, a lot of us are going through Covid-19 fatigue. Since March, the entire world was forced to pause and our freedoms sacrificed to allow a better understanding of the pandemic that has affected all aspects of our lives. A few weeks of reprieve from the virus after months of staying home made us lower our guard for a moment. With the growing spread and concern for our health, one of the ways we can better be prepared is by giving our immune systems a fighting chance. For this, we have compiled some tips in addition to handwashing and maintaining proper hygiene, social distancing, and staying home, to keep you as healthy as possible to have the best chance of fighting off the virus and other pathogens as well as help in your recovery if you do contract it.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables have the highest concentration of antioxidants which help your body maintain a healthy immune system. They are a really potent source of vitamins and minerals which are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. What we eat and drink can affect our body’s capability to stop, fight and recover from infections. Adding as many different colored fresh produce that’s in season will help to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. Try to portion half of your meal with vegetables, cooked lightly or raw in order to get the most nutritional value. Eat your fruits in place of snacks and your body will thank you as well as adjust to the natural sugars that will kick any sweet-tooth habits away. Other ways to incorporate these foods is by making juices and smoothies or fruit bowls to make your combinations fun and simple. Veggies can be eaten in a myriad of ways including soups, grilled, steamed, raw, salads, and stir-fries. Add these to your daily meals and feel the transformation from within.
The most famous concoction for any respiratory type infections we have grown to love is the dawa, a mix of ginger lemon and honey drank hot or cold. Drinking of herbal remedies and concoctions come from thousands of years of their effectiveness in getting concentrated doses of immune-boosting and healing properties to improve our health and restore our wellness. Ginger has a bioactive ingredient, gingerol, that is highly anti-inflammatory and when partnered with lemon and turmeric, this creates a powerful mix that helps to fight off flu-like pathogens and gives you a boost when you drink it in the morning each day. This drink also provides plenty of antioxidants and vitamin C that reduces oxidative stress meaning all your organs function normally. Other herbal teas – green, hibiscus, clove, etc – and simple tonics such as lemon and honey with hot water or a mix of garlic honey and cumin in hot water help to support a healthy immune system and alleviate symptoms from colds and respiratory diseases. Some herbal remedies can be inhaled as vapors such as eucalyptus oils which help treat nasal and chest congestion, clears out mucus from the lungs, and helps relieve asthma. If you ask around enough, there are more age-old proven recipes passed on from traditional knowledge that enhance immune function and fight off infection.
Sleep and Exercise
If we all monitored our sleep, chances are we get less than we need for our daily requirements. Any less than 6-7 hours lowers your immunity against a lot of diseases. Studies also show that sleep deprivation is associated with cardiovascular disease and obesity. Other substances such as alcohol and sleeping medication negatively affect your sleep cycle and should not be used as a sleeping aid. Getting into a good nighttime routine to unwind and unload for the day matched with a quality night’s sleep is an important part of boosting immunity against lifestyle diseases and covid-19. Combined with a manageable exercise program will help rid the body of harmful toxins and improve mental function. Check out our post here on the ways you can increase movement and mobility or this link for easy exercises that will transform your body. Our bodies love movement that helps to burn and create energy and regenerate new cells that protect us from harmful pathogens, with adequate sleep, your system will be better suited to protect you as well as help you recover quickly. Remember to rest when injured or feeling unwell to ensure your energy is maintained for fully recuperating your body.
We are located in the most ideal climate where the sun shines almost all year round. The melanin in our skin however begs that we spend more time in the sun to get the full benefits of this magnificent source of energy. Vitamin D is synthesized via a chemical reaction once our skin is exposed to the sun. The holidays by the beach are great for this reason, but we need it every day as our body cannot produce it on its own. A few food sources contain this vitamin such as oily fish – salmon, mackerel, sardines – egg yolks, dairy, liver, and fortified spreads and cereals. Sitting indoors and staying home may mean we get less vitamin D which helps to prevent osteoporosis. It also prevents flu, the common cold and other infections especially evidenced in the treatment and prevention of covid-19. Low-dose daily units work the best, however, if you are deficient you may be advised to supplement with larger amounts to bring up your levels. Vitamin D is produced even with the protection of sunscreen, so go outside and enjoy a warm hug from the sun.
Probiotics and Fermented Foods
Our digestive health dictates how our bodies and immune systems function. Our natural gut flora works best with a nutritious balanced lifestyle and a variety of foods that help maintain this delicate balance. Fermented foods play a significant role in aiding a healthy gut and maintaining optimum digestive health. They contain pre and probiotics which are helpful microorganisms made up of live bacteria and yeast cells that help to fight off harmful bacteria and restore your gut balance. Luckily we have plenty of foods that contain these amazing organisms that include yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, sour milk (maziwa lala, mursik etc), kefir, miso, kimchi, and so on. With the help of WhatsApp groups, Facebook, and the friendly communities online giving out starters and helpful tips, everyone has a chance to try out recipes to their liking and enjoy the benefits of these immune-boosting and beneficial fermented foods locally sourced and from the comfort of their home.
Mental Health and Mindfulness
Have you ever noticed that you sometimes feel physically unwell when your mental health is also struggling? Our bodies are intricately connected systems and the imbalance of one greatly affects the other. These are unprecedented days. There are still a lot of unknowns about the novel coronavirus and in order to give ourselves the best chance on prevention or treatment, our mental health practices need to be at par with good physical health practices. Ensure to take precautions as well as maintain a safe wholesome environment whenever possible. Meditation and prayer, talking to family, friends, and loved ones, lending a helping hand to those in need, participating in activities outside of work both off and online, journaling, listening to music and motivational talks as well as watching funny shows and comedies. These things, in addition to seeking help when you cannot cope, are essential to maintaining a healthy mind and body. At the least we are each living in this shared experience, some worse than others. Reaching out to others has a domino effect on our own well being. Be patient, be kind and stay safe.